April 2015: Williams the Conquered - Mike & Chris Hughes Win The Aberconway
Mike Fenn reports:
A dry but slightly cold day greeted the fourteen pairs as they as they arrived early at Eton for a prompt 10am start. The organiser was there to welcome first timers Mark and Charlie Moore; Gideon and Elana Osen; John and Arthur Leigh-Pemberton; and Colin and Nathan Turnbull. Colin and Nathan had kindly stepped in at the last moment ensuring an even number of pairings. The number of players was slightly down this year due to holidays, return to University and fathers working outside the UK.
The morning play was conducted in three groups, two of four pairs and one of six with each pair playing three matches to the best of three with setting at eleven points and the best group winners going through to the afternoon semi-finals. There were no real surprises in the morning’s play with the top four seeded pairs coming through the group stage. Comfortable winners of Group 1 were the cup holders Grant and Guy Williams with Marcus and Jack Capstick-Dale securing second place with two wins out of three.
Group 2 with six pairs saw Mark Moore, a former Kinnaird winner, and his son Charlie and the ever green Tony Walters winning through to a semi-final berth for the eighteenth time out of twenty-one played having won the final on three occasions twice with son Anthony and once with son Jake. John and Kinnaird Cup holder Seb Cooley narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot losing a close encounter with the Moores 12-10, 11-12, 8-12. Peter Scholey and son Robert also managed to take a game off the Moores. Howard Wiseman, former Kinnaird winner and his young son Gwydion also played well to win two of their three matches.
There were no surprises in Group 3 with five times Aberconway winners Mike and Chris Hughes dropping only twelve points in their three matches, ten of those against second placed Jamie Halstead, a former Kinnaird winner, and his nephew Louis.
In the afternoon semi-finals the Williams had a comfortable win against the Walters winning 12-5, 12-6 and the Hughes likewise against the Moores 12-3, 12-6. The Walters were delighted to have made another semi-final - in their words ‘unexpectedly’. The Mooresalso did exceptionally well as Mark no longer plays much Fives. The tight game in the group matches against the Cooleys and losing a game to the Scholeys probably took its toll.
The final as expected turned out to be a close and eventful encounter between two former champion pairs: the holders for the last two years the Williams and five time former winners the Hughes. The spectators were not disappointed and despite the scoreline the match could so easily have gone to either pair. Throughout the final was played in good spirit and to their credit the Williams took in good part the stoppages for cramp suffered by Chris Hughes and indeed his father Mike. The first game went to the Hughes who raced to a 5-1 lead. Rallies were fast and furious with the crisp volleying on the step by Chris being a decisive factor. Grant Williams’s on court comments kept players and spectators amused. At 5-1 down “this is a thriller here we go” and at 10-4 down “time for an enormous push Guy”. The Williams played well but appeared to have no answer to the attacking power play of the Hughes who took the first game 12-5.
After the first game the momentum was with the Hughes and the Williams looked in trouble. However they did not allow the loss of the first game to dampen their determination to take the second. It was an evenly matched game throughout, with the lead swinging first to one pair and then the other. The Williams were leading at 3-2 and then the score evened at 5-5 with Mike thinking a ball was going out of court allowed it to bounce a good foot inside the back court. “Trouble is you don’t know these courts Mike” shouted Grant. It was at this point that the first break due to Chris’s cramp occurred. At 6-5 down the Williams took a quick three point lead, the score levelling again at 9-9 and then 10-10. Comment to the spectators by Grant “Foot at 14 taken and gents so exciting”. There were further cramp delays at 13-12, this time Mike, with the Hughes one point ahead. 13-13 went the score and with Guy lying flat out on the top court, “more effort Guy” shouted his Dad. 13-14 to the Williams before Chris cut the ball out of court and the game was lost.
And so we entered the third game with the spectators predicting a win to the Williams on account of the physical difficulties being experienced by the Hughes. The Hughes took an early two point lead only to be pegged back and after further cramp breaks the score reached 6-6, still anyone’s match. Rallies continued fast and furious with rapid volleying on the front step and great retrieving at the back neither pair giving an inch. “Come on Grant get your act together” shouts Grant and not to be outdone after a poor shot Mike “sorry my fault” “yes it was” retorts Chris, 6-6, 6-7, 7-7, 7-8, 8-8, 9-8 to the Hughes. “Three points to glory” shouts Chris and it was at this stage that two points came their way in quick succession, 11-8 to the Hughes. Williams were in hand valiantly trying to close the gap but two unforced errors by Grant let the Hughes in again before a shout of “oh no” was heard and the game, match and Aberconway Cup went to the Hughes for the six time 12-5, 13-15, 12-8.
Whilst all the excitement of the final was unfolding this year two Plates were held. In the Plate A Final Jamie and Louis Halstead beat Marcus and Jack Capstick-Dale 12-5 and Gareth Hoskins and son Tom beat Gideon and Elana Osen 12-7 in Plate B.
Mike Fenn organiser and Vice President of the EFA presented the Aberconway Cup to the winners. Mike is to stand down as organiser of the Fathers & Sons having been at the helm since its inauguration in 1991. Chris Hughes has agreed to take over from the 2015/16 season.
M & C Hughes beat M & C Moore 2-0 (12-3, 12-6)
G & G Williams beat A & A Walters 2-0 (12-5, 12-6)
M & C Hughes beat G & G Williams 2-1 (12-5, 13-15, 12-8)
J & L Halstead beat M & J Capstick-Dale 12-5
G & T Hoskins beat G & E Osen 12-7